Chumash development plan roils Santa Ynez Valley

By Scott Gold
December 15, 2013, 7:34 p.m.

Chumash leaders say they want to build homes on a parcel near their reservation. Community activists fear they may instead build a casino or resort.

SANTA YNEZ, Calif.  The Chumash Indians, first seen by explorers along the California coast in the fall of 1542, did not have running water on their tiny, sickle-shaped reservation until the 1960s.

Over time, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians clawed its way to sustainability, and more. The tribe harnessed Depression-era laws of self-governance, state and federal gambling initiatives. A casino opened in 2003. Healthcare is paid for. The tribe foots the bill for any recognized descendant who wants to go to college.

“We are a poster child for tribes across the state and country,” said tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta. “You would think that people would be jumping up and down and saying: ‘Look at what those fine Indians did.'”

Instead, the tribe’s expansion plans have sparked a bitter dispute over the future of the Santa Ynez Valley and whether the biggest threat to the area’s eccentric charm and velvet countryside could be its earliest inhabitants.

Read the full story at L.A. Times